By Ainur Rohmah
TUBAN, (AA): A strong earthquake shook the north of Indonesia’s Sumatra island Wednesday morning, killing at least 52 people and causing dozens of buildings to collapse.
National Disaster Management Agency spokesman Sutopo Purwo Nugroho told a televised press conference that in addition to the 52 fatalities in Aceh province, there are an undetermined number of people trapped in buildings.
Heni Via, Aceh’s disaster management agency spokesman, was quoted by detik.com as saying that at least 500 people are receiving treatment at a hospital in Sigli town of Pidie Regency, mostly for head injuries and broken bones.
Dozens of those hospitalized across Aceh suffered sever injuries in the magnitude 6.5 temblor.
The chief of neighboring Pidie Jaya Regency’s disaster management agency, Puteh Manaf, had earlier expressed concerns that the death toll “could increase because data keeps entering into the post from some districts”, according to acehkita.com.
Nugroho said in an earlier statement that the earthquake hit at shallow depth of 10 kilometers (6 miles) after 5 a.m.
“The earthquake did not trigger a tsunami,” he said.
Amid the trembling, people rushed out of their homes in panic and strong shocks were felt across Pidie Jaya.
“According to an updated report from the local disaster management agency, there are a few houses and buildings that have collapsed,” Nugroho said.
Said Mulyadi, Pidie Jaya’s vice regent, was earlier quoted by detik.com as saying that evacuation efforts were underway.
President Joko Widodo ordered relevant authorities to tackle the disaster.
“I have received the report this morning. I order all related officials to address the disaster appropriate to their authority,” he said from the presidential palace.
Indonesia lies within the Pacific’s “Ring of Fire”, where tectonic plates collide and cause frequent seismic and volcanic activity.
In June, a magnitude 6.5 tremor damaged buildings in western Sumatra Island, with its shocks reportedly felt in parts of Singapore and peninsular Malaysia to the north.
On Dec. 26, 2004, a magnitude-9.1 earthquake struck the eastern coast of Sumatra, causing a tsunami that killed around 230,000 people — the majority in Aceh — as it tore along the coasts of Sri Lanka, India, Malaysia, Indonesia and Thailand.
[Photo: Injured people receive medical treatment in the quake-devastated area after an earthquake measuring 6.4 on the Richter Scale rocked Pidie Jaya, Aceh, Indonesia on December 07. Photographer: Muhabiri Stringer/AA]